We take a look at the little nations of Europe vying for sovereignty..." />

Breaking for the Border - Part 1

Posted on Mar 24, 2008 in News


Breaking for the Border - Part 1
Finbarr Barry

Revolutionary struggle for independence is not confined to the Rebel County, here are some updates on how some of our European brothers are faring against their oppressors…

Population: 15 times that of Cork
Size: 4.3 times bigger than Cork
Capital: Barcelona

Eleven million speakers of a language that people in your "capital city" haven't the foggiest about is a decent reason to start get stroppy about "doing your own thing".

Violent efforts to stamp out Catalonian nationalism by the Spanish Government in the past only served to inflame the passions of Catalans even more - their independent identity embodied in Barcelona's famous football club is well known around the world.

Catalans are known for their relentless passion, especially in sport, something every Corkonian can certainly relate to. This passion is often misread by outsiders as unfriendliness and the proverbial 'chip-on-their-shoulder' regularly cited as the reason for it. Many, particularly in the northern regions and in southern France have spent a lifetime campaigning for official recognition - the resulting passion and abrasiveness is a side effect of this internal struggle.

Prospects for Independence: Catalonia itself is mainly viewed as being the part of Spain surrounding Barcelona but neighbouring Andorra, France and Sardinia all have inhabitants that identify themselves as Catalan.

Rather than strengthen them, this complicates the independence movement as political divisions exist among separatists in Spain as to whether they should move for independence solely from Spain or move as one giant nation - the latter option requiring confrontation with no less than three major EU governments with little time for internal division.

Lessons for Cork: get a few billionaires to take over Cork City FC to bring the club to the attention of the footballing world. We can make our move for freedom after a champions league three-in-a-row.

Population: 8 times more than Cork
Size: Barely bigger at 10,000 sq. kms
Capital: Pristina

While over the last few years we haven't heard much from the Balkan tinderbox, Kosovo grabbed headlines again recently declaring that it was making one final run-for-it.

Devastated by civil war in the late nineties, its two million Kosovars are hoping Serbia will do little more than scowl and scorn over their departure. However, edgy eastern politics can quickly turn sour and the UN administration currently governing the embryonic state moved the independence agenda at a tortoise pace so as not to provoke serious political hiccups.

The glow of Brussels and its deep pockets has distracted most Serbs thankfully, as a pro-Western leader elected there in February is encouraging his people to simply get on with building the economy and improving trade links with the EU. Despite the protests in Belgrade, Kosovo looks to be away on a hack.

Prospects for Independence: declaration of full independence from Serbia on February 17th.

Lesson for Cork: UN intervention leads to independence. We've just added Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to the PROC Christmas card list.

Population: 600,000 (Cork plus three Croke Parks)
Size: 13,000 sq kms. (twice the size of County Cork)

The second newest country in the world only gained full independence from Serbia in 2006 after a protracted period as a "principality". The Montenegrin language is only spoken by a minority and was only recognised in the new constitution last October due to the heavy influence of their former overlords to the north east, many of whose citizens now reside in the Adriatic beauty spot.

Montenegro has had its fair share of thrashings under various failed Yugoslavian incarnations so the world breathed a sigh of relief when a successful peaceful referendum result eventually unshackled Podgorica from Belgrade.

Like a spring lamb, the young nation is giddily leaping around Europe canvassing for its big EU party invitation and the vibes are good in Brussels, with the parliament promising an annual €30 million to gee up key infrastructural projects to prepare the path for accession.

Prospects for independence: sorted!

Lessons for Cork: a few Montenegrin flags have showed up on the terraces of Semple Stadium over the years so Corkonian separatists are truly inspired to see fellow reds successfully cut the leash.

Population: 34,000 (two Ballincolligs)
Size: 160 sq. kms.
Capital: Vaduz

Are you a successful Cork business person looking for ways to embed your name into the history books forever? Then how about setting up your country? The Lichtenstein family from Austria did it and a fine job they've done too.

Located on the Austrian/Swiss border its barely bigger than the Dursey corner of the Beara Peninsula plus a few Lidl car parks. Despite its compact cinquecento-like size, the German speaking statelet has its own sovereign government consisting of a prime-minister and four ministers (cabinet meetings can take place in the car on the way to parliament to save time). The house of representatives has 25 members who manage the economy and the Prince's estimated 4 billion fortune.

One of the wealthiest countries on earth Lichtenstein has played its cards cleverly, flirting with all its neighbours over time and getting the most from each one. Despite emerging from the Roman Empire (read: Italy), it joined the Germans, then left them for the Austrians, half left them and then took on the currency of Switzerland with whom it shares its neutrality.

Defensive responsibilities fall to the Swiss next door which is dead handy and a good way to avoid the demanding eye of the USA - "listen we don't actually have an army so we can't help you with your invasions".

Outsourcing Cork's defence to a nearby neutral neighbour might raise a few eyebrows but something to carefully consider.

Prospects for independence: technically Lichtenstein is a principality so its not a recognised country per se. To whom the prince is loyal to is quite hard to know so the Lichtensteinonians, or whether they call themselves, keep a finger in every pot. Wise out.

Lesson for Cork: remaining vague about your independence and loyalties seems to pay off big time. There's also the option of installing a Cork prince. Hmmmm.

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